Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It'll Break You To Buy It, and Keep You Broke Once You Have It...

Can you solve this riddle? Who am I?

Another clue needed?

OK... second clue: If you thought you were the "belle" of your husband's life, once he has one of these, you might come in a close second.... Know what it is yet?

Really! You need another clue?

Ha... It's blue, and can do the work of 60 horses!

And what that should mean, is that we should no longer have to do the work of 60 horses, but this lovely lady *should* be able to do it.

Oh, and yes, she's stolen my husband's heart, along with my son's.

She has been introduced to our family as "Blue Belle"... there are *stars* in my husband's eyes to prove it!

And our son thinks she's pretty fine too.

His first time to drive a tractor, and he was hooked!

And all I have to say is this.... It broke us to buy her... and it is going to break us to keep her... she's already broke down twice... but considering her age, I'll give her a break.  She's a few days older than my hubby, so we're hoping that there's lots of great life in her yet.  Blue Belle just needs a bit of TLC... according to my husband, and she'll be good as new.

All I care about is if she can do the work of 60 horses, instead of me having to do it! If she'll haul logs, push snow, and till my garden, I might someday even call her my friend :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Time for a Garden Update...

I have made the comment recently that I have put more work into my garden this year more than any I've ever had... with the least results.  So far, I have been very disappointed in the produce from my garden.  I purchased my seeds all in one place, as I was experimenting with going completely heirloom and organic.  All the seeds I planted were heirlooms, and were organic, with no hybrids or genetically modified seeds.

What I have been finding is that the produce from these seeds has been very sadly disappointing, to date at least.  To be fair to the heirloom/organic seeds, this was my first year planting a garden in this soil.  However, I did supply plenty of natural fertilizers including Epsom salts, lots of organic fertilizer, plenty of water (even though I've had to haul it in coolers every day over to the garden from our house, since we have never gotten the well we were promised we would get!).   And, another reason why I believe this has to do with seeds, is that I shared these seeds with several friends, and they have reported the same results that I have had.  They have tried the seeds in their garden, with lots of love, care, fertilizer, water etc., and very little produce to show.

With that being said, here are some pictures of the garden so that you can see  how things are going so far, and any suggestions, ideas, or comments are appreciated!

 This has been my morning ritual for the entire summer, except for the blessed days that it rained! (The watering cans have duct tape on them, thanks to our sweet Annie when she was a puppy and chewing everything in sight, lol!)

I filled up as many buckets, watering cans and coolers as the pickup bed would hold.

I would fill the cooler almost to the top, but by the time we reached the garden, at least one-quarter of the water would spill out.

These are my heirloom tomatoes so far.  There seems to be a good amount of them growing, but so far none of them have started to ripen.

And I did pick the best tomato plant out there to photograph.  The darker green tomatoes look like they should be about ready to start ripening soon.  We shall see!

My corn -pftt! The turkeys invaded my garden after I planted it, and these are the only corn that survived.  Even at that, they have been very slow growing, and have not even tasseled yet, so unless a miracle takes place, we won't be eating any corn from the garden this year :(

The zucchini and yellow squash have grown veerrrryyyy slowly this summer as well.  It has taken this squash 2 weeks to grow from a bloom to about 8" in length.   Again, squash usually takes over and wears me out with its efforts to produce, but so far this year, we've only gotten enough squash to make one meal so far!  Not so good!

This is one of the few teeny-tiny pumpkins that are growing.  I highly doubt they'll make weight before the first frost!!!!

Green beans  - they are growing, but slowly.  Have gotten enough green beans for one meal so far.  The rest I have been freezing as they come in slowly, and perhaps we'll have enough soon for another meal.

The green zucchini are doing okay, but they've been working on getting this big for two weeks!

The turkeys helped me plant my garden. I had all the lettuce in one row, but have found it growing scattered throughout the garden, lol.  However, the lettuce seems quite happy growing with the broccoli beside it.

This is one head of broccoli that is growing quite nicely!

More of my lettuce - growing now with the carrots... those crazy turkeys!!!

This is my potato patch. It was planted late, as an afterthought, and then the turkeys did their damage here too.  I had the potatoes all nicely planted in rows.  You can see here that the turkeys just scattered the potatoes everywhere.  Oh well. The straw was an afterthought too.  My dad had mentioned how well potatoes will do with straw covering them, so while he was here, we put a bale of straw or old hay over the potatoes.  The potato plants really seemed to like having the straw mulched around them.  So, we shall see what they produce come fall!

And last, but not least, my crop of peas.  Again, the turkeys had a hey-day with the peas too.  The few that did come up struggled to produce at first.

I have been getting a handful or two of these beauties a day.  Not exactly enough to feed a family on, but sure makes a great snack!

And that is my gardening update for now.  Maybe in a week or two things will change as fall approaches, and harvest season will have to happen, now or never!  One can always hope, and I guess that is what keeps gardeners like myself going.  Taking care of a garden is a lot of work, but reaping the rewards makes it worthwhile.  I truly hope that some of my efforts will pay off in food for our family's table.  That remains to be seen, largely thanks to the turkeys and gophers who invaded my garden in its early stages, the fact that this is the first time this soil has ever grown vegetables, and the fact that we don't have a well, and I have had to hand water everything.  Yes... we shall see :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Bit the Bullet...

... and bought a Nutribullet!  After the surplus of kale this year at farmer's markets, I decided I needed to do more with it than just let it sit in my refrigerator and wilt away.  After an attempt to try and make a green smoothie in my current blender, it wasn't too great.  My current blender left good sized pieces of kale throughout the smoothie, and left a lot to be desired.

So, I began to research the different kinds of blenders out there that would do a better job of making a smoothie than my current blender.  What I found out was that there was a huge price difference between the higher end blenders, and the lower end.

However, I watched this video of two ladies who were comparing the taste and value of two blenders - the Vitamix, and the Nutribullet.  The Vitamix runs about $400.00 upwards, depending on how many bells and whistles you think you need to have, and then there is the Nutribullet, which varies in price from $79.00 to up to $200.00 at some stores.

After watching this video, I was markedly impressed that the Nutribullet would be the best bang for my dollar, especially if it was able to come close to blending the smoothie ingredients as well as the Vitamix.

Soo... I purchased my Nutribullet at Costco for a reasonable price of $79.99.

NutriBullet® Deluxe 14-piece Blender Set with Extractor Blade'

14-piece Set Includes:
  • High-torque Power Base
  • 1 Extractor Blade
  • 1 Milling Blade
  • 1 Oversized Cup
  • 1 Tall Cup
  • 2 Short Cups
  • 1 Handled Lip Ring
  • 1 Regular Lip Ring
  • 1 Flip-top To-go Lid
  • 2 Stay-fresh Resealable Lids
  • User Manual & Cookbook
  • Pocket Nutritionist
  • Added value: Natural Healing Foods Book

One feature that I really like about this Nutribullet is that I can make the smoothie, add a lid to it, and drink the smoothie straight from the cup that it was blended in, which saves any additional cleanup, and makes it easier to go with! 

So far, I have been playing around with different recipes and every day my "green smoothie" tastes different!  I use kale or greens such as spinach, argula, swiss chard, or whatever greens I can get at our local farmer's market as my base, usually about 2 cups or handfuls.  Then I add whatever fresh or frozen fruit I have on hand, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, bananas, pineapple, cherries etc.  Then I add about 1-2 cups liquid, either in the form of orange juice, almond milk, or coconut milk, along with 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1 Tbsp chia seeds.  

This seems to result in a wonderful green smoothie that I can take with me, and drink throughout the morning, knowing that I am getting a great start to my day with all the fresh veggies and fruits.  

I have also noticed a marked difference in my appetite.  I am not as hungry throughout the day, and some days only have to eat one meal after drinking the smoothie.  

Today I tried adding an avocado to the greens, and it was awesome!  

So, if you haven't jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon yet, it might be time to give it a try.  It is a great way to get your fruits and veggies all in one big swallow!!! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Storms Double-Whammy

Just 30 minutes after Dad's plane flew out of the airport, a summer storm hit this area with a vengeance. We were on our way home from taking Dad to the airport when we saw the menacing clouds off to the east. We were lucky enough to make it almost home when the wind hit us, and nearly blew our vehicle across the road.  We made it home safely, only to find a lot of our yard furniture blown over. We were lucky though in this storm, as no other apparent damage or troubles happened in our area.  However, the storm did some terrible damage in other surrounding areas, so much so that my husband's brother and wife, who are storm insurance adjusters were called into this area.

So, last Saturday evening we met up with them to eat dinner and visit.  When we arrived at the restaurant, we noticed a very dark, heavy cloud looming in the horizon.  I said to my husband... if this storm continues to look as ugly as it does right now, your brother could be here much longer... and I didn't realize that my words were very true.  We had no idea just how bad this storm was.  Within minutes though, a crazy wind blew through, and we watched debris flying through the air.  An apartment building across the street had shingles peeling off the roof, flying through the air.  It was pretty wild for several minutes, and the electricity at the restaurant went out.  Luckily for us though... it came back on and we were able to enjoy a wonderful meal... little did we know it would be the last meal we'd have with electricity for the next several days!

As we said our goodbyes, and headed back home, we began to realize that this storm had caused more damage than we realized.  We came over a hill to a scene of fire, smoke, and red and white lights.  Apparently lightning had struck and there was a fire burning on both sides of the road.  We were able to drive through without any trouble, but there were so many emergency vehicles there, that it seemed the fire would be contained shortly, as it was thankfully.

As we continued on towards home, we came upon a sign in the road, and a detour saying "trees in the road".. and so they had us detour through a little gravel road off the main highway.  When we saw this, we knew then that this storm had caused a significant amount of damage to close down a major road.  So, we called and talked to our friends and neighbors to find out how our place had fared.  Everyone was sharing stories of power outage and trees down, although everyone was okay.

As we arrived home, our place looked intact, but we were concerned about our property up on the mountain and how it had fared.  We drove over there to investigate, and it wasn't long as we climbed slowly up the mountain that we began to see trees down across that road too.  Someone had already been by with a chainsaw and cut a path through.

We arrived at our property to find little damage in what we could see in the dark.  We had our camper out there, and also the garden and fencing.  Thankfully, no trees fell on the garden, or the camper, although two trees did snap off close to the garden, but thankfully away from it!

It was time to return home and hook up the generators for our freezer and refrigerator.  It appeared, from all indications, that this was going to be an extended power vacation.

So we pulled out the refrigerator to plug it into the generator, and were very thankful at that point to have our generator!  We have had it for several years, and never had to use it for a power outage, but with all the meat and food we needed to keep cold/frozen... we were so very thankful for the investment of the generator several years ago!

As luck would have it, I also had filled our coolers with water the day before, and then didn't need to use the water for the garden, because it had rained.  So, now we had water to wash with, and flush toilets with.  Little things like this mean a lot when you are unexpectedly without power!  Our well does not have the hook ups to switch over to run by generator when the power goes out.

... and thanks to the generator, we soon had our morning coffee hot and ready!

Cosmo and Annie did not like the sound of the generator, and were just really puzzled about all the fuss going on.  Cosmo especially seemed very worried about it all. I guess he decided to guard the fuel... just to play it safe!

Our neighbors had lost several nice trees in the storm.  Thankfully though, none that threatened any of their fencing or structures.

So with the hot day stretching before us, with no electricity, we decided it was a good day to take the boat out to the lake.  I packed a lunch, slathered everyone with coconut oil, and off we went to enjoy the lake, hoping all the while that the power would be on once we got back home...

The river was beautiful and peaceful, and it was wonderful to be out enjoying the sunshine, and cool breeze!

A turtle sunning himself on a rock...

We passed some beautiful homes, and admired their landscaping, and beauty.

Our son wanted to try his hand at fishing, so we went into the more marshy areas of the lake to see if there were any hungry fish.... the fish weren't biting... but we did see lots of ducks and geese trying to stay cool.

This is a wildlife sanctuary where the birds are protected, and you can walk down to the water and watch the wildlife.

We saw this seagull perched on this rock sticking out of the water.  He wasn't too concerned with us as we cruised by.

The river was for the most part quiet.  There were a few other boats out on the lake, but we had a relatively quiet ride with not too many waves to have to jump in our little john-boat!

The little wake that our boat left behind wasn't too bad...

A beautiful house built on the rock - literally!

As we cruised around the lake some more, we saw this bird in the water... all you could see was his head sticking out... but then when he saw us coming, my camera barely caught him as he quickly flew away!

We got a little closer to the bird sanctuary, and you could see that all these birds got the memo that this was a safe haven!  Look at them lining the shore!

Another one with his head just barely sticking out of the water... at this point, that is what we were ready to do! We were getting hot, and began looking for a place where we could relax in the water ourselves!

We had a very beady-eyed audience!!!  They were glad when we turned and went back out to open water!

Next we spotted an osprey circling above us.  The kids still had fishing poles in the water, as we trolled along.  I suppose this osprey was hoping our fishing efforts might pay off for him or her... but sadly... we didn't find any fish biting, and I didn't see him (or her) dive into the water with any success either...

Finally we came upon a little rocky shore that was shallow enough for us to beach the boat on.  Someone had built an area for a campfire there, and it turned out to be a great little spot to enjoy the water.

Everyone was hungry , so I handed out sandwiches, chips, and drinks, and we all relaxed on the shore as the waves gently slapped the shoreline, enjoying the beauty of the day.

We walked the edge of the shore for a while, until the shore disappeared into weeds...

 Finally, it was time to go, so we loaded back into the boat, and headed back to the docks.

We wanted to run by the property again in the daylight to see how things were faring there.  The dogs enjoyed the ride over in the pickup!

They always get excited when we let them ride in the back, and they love to lift their faces to the wind.

As we climbed the mountain road to our place, I had my camera ready to take pictures of the downed trees crossing the road.  This was the first set of downed trees that we came to.  There was barely enough room for the pickup to drive through.

These were some very nice large cedar trees that had gone down.

This is the second tree that had gone down across the road.  Again, whoever cut the trail through was in a hurry, because we barely squeezed through again.

In the daylight, we were able to see the damage to the trees on our property better.  It was a little worse than we first thought.  This tree went down very close to the garden, and other wood piles.

This part of the wood pile went over... but not too bad here.

I went to check my garden to see how it fared in the wild winds that passed through.  Several of my tomato plants were knocked over, but no damage to the stems, and they should survive.

Some of the squash plants were toppled over, but otherwise they seemed okay too.

Looks like these lovely green ladies will be finding their way to our plates soon!

Most of the tree damage we had was from the top-heavy trees toppling over.

You can see how this tree just splintered as it crashed onto the forest floor.

No doubt about it... the guys have their work cut out for them cutting up the downed wood...

You see the tree in the middle... it was one of our huge Ponderosa trees that lost its top - see how tall that tree is! So sad to see that tree gone.  It was one of the biggest on our place.

Very sad to see this huge tree down.

Standing far back, you can see another tree we lost... another big Ponderosa.

But considering how much damage other people suffered during this storm, we counted ourselves lucky. Many people lost tens of trees, while we lost about ten.

It was several days before our power was restored, 2-1/2 days to be exact...  and we were very glad to see the power restored!!  I think the thing we missed the most was the running water.  We did have water, but when you don't have running water, you really notice how much water you use in the course of the day.  You need water to cook, water to clean, water to use the toilet... things that you take for granted every day, you suddenly become very appreciative of them when they are not there.  We didn't mind not having electricity... we had several LED lanterns that we placed throughout the house, and they worked great once it got dark.  Of course, without the generator our food would have went bad, and so we were very thankful to have the generator... but other than the generator keeping the food cool, we didn't mind too bad not having electricity... except for our coffee of course run by the generator... but we really missed having the luxury of running water.

So now, life is back to normal... as normal as can be expected in the middle of a hot summer... and now we are looking forward to fall, and realizing that shopping for school clothes and supplies is upon us... wow! Time surely flies... but I guess life would be boring if it didn't!